Even though we can’t travel for weeks (or maybe months) that hasn’t stopped us dreaming of our next holiday. But which airlines can we trust to refund our money if Covid disrupts our travel plans – and which should we avoid?
Lots of us are understandably wary about booking a trip any time soon because we don’t know if and when we’ll be able to travel again and we don’t want to risk losing our money if we can’t go.
Millions of flights have been cancelled since the start of the pandemic in March 2020 and, unfortunately, thousands of us have found that getting a refund from airlines is harder than getting a straight answer from Boris Johnson.
By law, you’re entitled to a refund within seven days of your flight being cancelled. But thousands of people have waited many months to get their money back from some airlines.
So, which are the worst airlines for refunds?
You probably don’t even need me to tell you that Ryanair’s customer service is abysmal. But you might be surprised to hear that when it comes to refunds Virgin Atlantic is one of the worst airlines.
In a recent Which? survey 79% of Ryanair passengers questioned said they were dissatisfied with the customer service they received while trying to get a refund, and around 84% of Virgin Atlantic passengers were dissatisfied.
Both have made customers wait months for their money back and provided little or no customer support during the process. Both initially issued vouchers and, in the case of Ryanair, it was hard to swap these for cash. Here’s something I wrote for Which? to disprove a claim by Ryanair’s shouty boss Michael O’Leary that every passenger who’d requested their money back had received a refund.
Ryanair and Virgin might be issuing refunds faster now, but based on their past track record, I’d give them a swerve.
And if you’re still trying to get a refund from Ryanair, remember that you need to click on the reject link in the email they send offering you a voucher. If you keep getting the email with a voucher, keep on rejecting it.
Which are the best airlines for refunds?
Jet2 stands head and shoulders above the rest when it comes to issuing refunds. Okay, it might not have given everyone their money back within the seven days required by law, but on the whole it’s done better than other airlines.
In the Which? survey, 76% of its customers questioned said they were satisfied with the process. Eight out of 10 passengers said they received their refund within 28 days. One in three got it within seven.
Jet2 isn’t perfect. At the start of the pandemic, when it was forced to cancel thousands of flights, it didn’t always tell customers they were entitled to their money back. Instead, it encouraged them to re-book – but it didn’t argue when they asked for refunds.
Jet2 is the only airline in the survey to be named a Which? Recommended Provider. Woo-hoo.
TUI didn’t perform so well with a satisfaction score of only 57%. But it was still the second best airline for refunds.
As Which? points out, TUI performed badly at the start of the pandemic when it wasn’t able to cope with the volume of refund requests and it issued vouchers instead. Customers spent literally hours on the phone trying to get through to a human to ask for their money back.
TUI is doing better now though. Customers can request refunds online.
What about other airlines?
British Airways scored a 50% satisfaction rating. Half their customers got a refund within seven days and 79% within a month, which is pretty good. But after BA removed a refund request form from its website and told customers to call instead, things went downhill. Customers complained the line often went dead, and some customers say they were misled into accepting vouchers instead.
I think it’s particularly bad that BA continues to refuse to refund customers who accidentally accepted a voucher when they thought they were requesting a refund. Here’s something I wrote on this issue for Which?
If this has happened to you, you should complain to the airline’s Alternative Dispute Resolution Service – it’s free and I know at least one passenger has been awarded a refund by the ADR.
Alternatively, you could try to make a claim on your credit or debit card.
EasyJet is so-so. It got a customer satisfaction score of 45%. Only 32% got their money back within a month and only 4% within seven days. Some customers said they’d waited ages on the phone to try to speak to someone about a refund. Like other airlines, it’s likely improved this process recently.